home

U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping al-Masri

The Chancellor of Germany has told the world what the the Bush Administration has tried to keep secret: The U.S. admitted making a mistake in kidnapping Khaled al-Masri (also spelled el-Masri) and detaining him for five months. The U.S. made the admission to Germany's then interior minister, Otto Schily.

The Germans became aware of his case in May 2004, when the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to the interior minister, Otto Schily. Ambassador Daniel Coats told Schily the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, al-Masri, for five months and would soon release him, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.

There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if al-Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared legal challenges and exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries.

TalkLeft noted here that it was Condi Rice who ordered the release of al-Masri. As the New York Times said at the time,

Ms. Rice's involvement suggests that the White House may have played a more hands-on role than was previously known. The officials who discussed the matter on Friday suggested that she had intervened as needed, but would not describe the extent to which national security officials at the White House were in charge.

My theory then, which I still think is viable, is that the C.I.A. confused the shoe salesman al-Masri with Muslim Cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.

According to the Times, Mr. Masri, a German shoe salesman, was released in May, 2004. Maybe they confused him with Muslim Cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who coincidentally was arrested in Britain in May, 2004? The cleric was wanted in connection with the Oregon case in which James Ujaama was charged with trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon. Attendees of al-Masri's London mosque allegedly included Richard Reid, the "shoe-bomber" and Zacarias Moussoui.

Only al-Masri the cleric, whose name has also been spelled el-Masri, has one eye and a hook for hands. You would think someone would have noticed the difference between him and Khaled el-Masri before five months went by.

One of the best articles on the mistakenly kidnapped el-Masri is in Der Speigel, available in English here. Also check out the ACLU's webpage on el-Masri and the lawsuit it filed yesterday.

< Al-Sami Prosecution a Failure of the Patriot Act | The Economics of Being Bob Woodward >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft


  • Display: Sort:
    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    Hold on a second. Do my eyes deceive me?
    The U.S. admitted making a mistake
    This story can't possibly be true.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#2)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    Scar, Your eyes were not deceiving you. We had to hear that our government made a mistake from the Chancellor of Germany because our government officials can't publicly admit that they make mistakes. By the way, they continue to make mistakes in the way they treat el-Masri. MSNBC (see crooks and liars) tried to bring him into the country for an interview but he couldn't enter because he was on the terror watch list.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#3)
    by wg on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    from wires - ... but within hours, senior US officials accompanying Rice took issue with Merkel's comments -- insisting that the secretary of state had made no such admission of US mishandling of the Masri case, according to wire service reports. ''We are not quite sure what was in [Merkel's] head," a senior official told reporters, according to Reuters news agency.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#4)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    wg - Looks like we have a "she said-she said" situation.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    It'd be quite hilarious if Germany decided to persure Kidnapping charges against the Administration. Condi's doing spin-overtime these days just trying to keep up with the flap over rendition. They made their bed. The shame is the rest of the country has to lie in it.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    I think some-thing, is behind this that people can't see in fact a deal was made by someone you don't know who is a real player. and the CIA Are not "Blunders" if the boys wanted him dead and disappeared he would be.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#7)
    by wg on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:43 PM EST
    welcome back Fred, we missed you!

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#8)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    U.S. admits blunder Beautiful. A "blunder." The guy, who is innocent, is disappeared, beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs by interrogators, and then spit out again at the other end, months later, with his life pretty much shattered. The propaganda system is alive and well that gets away with calling this crime a blunder.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    "Blunder" is a massive understatement. I'd call it kidnapping, assault, and wrongful imprisonment.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#10)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    wg - Looks like we have a "she said-she said" situation.
    Yeah. He said "I was kidnapped and beaten for months", she said "No comment". Gee, I wonder where the truth lies.

    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#11)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:46 PM EST
    Re: U.S. Admitted Blunder in Kidnapping el-Masri (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:48 PM EST
    The story of the situation Masri found himself in, and his treatment by his captors, seems to get more disgusting the deeper into it people dig. Steve Clemons said today on Washington Note that it appears that when Masri's captors in Afghanistan decided he was innocent they reported so to Tenet, whose response was to have Masri held for another two months, then they dumped him, blindfolded and alone, into a "deep forest, mountainous triangle area between Albania, Serbia and Macedonia. He had to walk out with no money, no identification." Did they figure he would never make it out, and their "problem" would just disappear in the woods? What the hell? I'd love to see the contortions as they try to explain this one away.